We’ve all heard the so-called rules about food and wine pairing, including the classic “red wine with red meat, white wine with fish.” If you’ve been reading Señorita Vino for some time, you may recall that I’m a proud member of the “reglas are made to be broken” camp.
But on Monday, a friend who claims to know nothing about wine asked me, “So, why pair food with wine?”
Usually I’m asked how to pair food and wine, but this was the first time I’ve ever been asked why. In response, here are the three reasons I think food and wine pairing is a good idea. If you have other suggestions, bring ’em on!
1. Wine can make your food taste better. Ever bitten into a wedge of rich, creamy Brie and loved it so much you could eat the whole wheel? I did that once in college and I don’t recommend it, but I digress. The point is that sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much. But if you’re having that creamy cheese with a glass of crisp, acidic Chablis, the wine helps balance the richness of the cheese.
2. Food can make your wine taste better. I’m a huge fan of in-your-face, bold red wines, but I know for some people, those gripping tannins pack a bit too much pucker power. Enter the juicy, meaty hunka-hunka-burnin’ love steak. The voluptuous, fatty fabulousness in the meat binds with the tannins in your Cabernet Sauvignon, taming the rough texture of the wine and rendering it as smooth as seda.
3. Wine and food pairing broadens your palate’s horizons. Say you’re a Chardonnay Chica (or a Merlot Man) at a Spanish tapas bar. Chances are, you’re going to find a lot of Spanish vinos on the wine list, and maybe none that you recognize. Your server may recommend a Viura instead of a Chardonnay, or a Garnacha-Tempranillo blend as a Merlot alternative. And just like that, you’ve discovered a new wine.
So go forth and experiment, chicas y chicos. Enjoy that carne asada with a Barolo! Nosh on those nachos with a Gruner Veltliner! Savor the spicy chicken tikka masala with a Riesling! Most of all, have fun with it. And whatever you do, don’t eat the whole wheel of Brie.